Valentine’s Day Civil War Style

"...this is the day on which those charming little missives, ycelped* Valentines, cross and inter-cross at every street and turning. The weary and all forespent twopenny postman sinks below a load of delicate embarrassments, not his own." Valentine's Day in Essays of Elia by Charles Lamb 1860 (*called) Valentine's Day was a well-established holiday by the... Continue Reading →

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The Christmas Tree Civil War Style

When we think of magic, probably one of the most magical things of the Christmas season are brilliantly lit Christmas trees. Although decking the house with boughs of pine was a traditional Christmas practice [the pine scent was believed to clean the air and prevent disease], Christmas trees were uncommon in early America. The custom,... Continue Reading →

Turkey Civil War Style

While soldiers in the field were waiting for their turkeys to arrive packed in crates filled with straw and kept cold, hopefully, by winter weather, at home women were preparing to roast their turkeys. Roasting a turkey in the 1800s meant cooking it on a spit inside a tin oven. Catherine Esther Beecher in her 1859... Continue Reading →

A Civil War Boy’s Diary

In my last post I referred to the diary of Lucy James Stoughton of Castle Creek. I came across another local diary in my files. This one by a boy of about the same age as Lucy. Diary of a Binghamton Boy of the 1860s was edited and explained by Marjory Barnun Hinman and published in... Continue Reading →

Civil War Medical Books for the Home

"Medical works are generally a heterogeneous compound of vague ideas and jaw-breaking words, in which the dead languages are largely employed to treat of living subjects. Orthodoxy in medicine consists in walking in the beaten paths of Esculapian ancestors, and looking with grave contempt on all who essay to cut out new paths for themselves.... Continue Reading →

Beneficient Ladies of New York

If you were a well-to-do lady living in New York in April 1864 and a member of the Union League Club House, you might have found yourself deep in preparations for the Metropolitan  Fair. Impressed by the successes of the Sanitary Fairs in Chicago and Boston in raising money for the care of wounded soldiers, New... Continue Reading →

Games for Girls from the 1862 American Girls’ Book

While the boys were outside building snow forts and giant men, the girls were inside putting on plays, playing games, or amusing themselves with paper and cardboard and cloth following the directions in the 1862 American Girl's Book by Miss Leslie, a volume intended as an "unpretending manual of light and exhilarating amusements; most of... Continue Reading →

Fun in the Snow 1860s Style

It snowed today and a white Christmas is predicted for my region. Time to have fun in the snow! Despite the war, children during the Civil War period loved snow as much as children do today. Indeed, the 1864 American Boy's Book of Sports and Games included snow play among its many healthful activities for American boys.... Continue Reading →

Sleigh Rides in the 1860s

  Why do parties choose a moonlit night for sleigh rides? Because they are pleasanter than dark nights. "Proceedings of the Farmers' Club" in the  Annual Report of the City of New York 1864 p. 165. Here it is December 15, and no snow, no snowmen, and no sleds. I am looking  out my window... Continue Reading →

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